I have been anxiously awaiting today so that I could share with you this incredible book, Temptation Rag. Of all of the historical fiction books that I recently have read, this one is right at the top of my favorites list! Of course, you already know by its title, that it is set in an era that I adore, but it revolves around my most beloved music in all of the world: Ragtime!
When I was a little girl I
was forced loved to play the piano, but dreaded really never came unto my own musically until my tutor decided, after she had lost all of her hair, to introduce me to Ragtime. At last!! There was something about the syncopated rhythm that found its way into my heart and suddenly, quite literally, overnight my fingers were flying all over the keyboard. Forget hymns, Bach, even Stravinsky, all I wanted was Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington and Tommy Turpin from morning until night. So, when I was given the opportunity to read a historical fictional account of “The Ragtime King of the World,” Mike Bernard, you better believe I jumped at the chance and squealed in delight at the prospect! Not only that, it is written by the wife of Bernard’s grandson. It’s like heaven right here in my ragtime era sitting room. Seriously, can you tell I’m excited yet?
Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?
Temptation Rag is told from multiple viewpoints, including in May’s voice and from Mike’s second wife, Jessie. There are multiple timelines as well but the author deftly transitions from past to present, person to person in a way that makes it very clear and the reader never loses the flow of the story line throughout. What is fascinating about the story itself are the characters, many of whom are based on real-life people who were in the ragtime/vaudeville circuit with Bernard. The era is real, the music is real and the social conditions – racism, women’s rights, child labor – which are being discussed throughout, all are quite real. As I’ve mentioned before, this era was a time of great change, socialism was making a huge impact across America. People of both sexes, all races, young and old, were demanding fairness and equality and it was from this turmoil, growth and change from which all of this incredible art and music sprung forth. I’m not sure why we don’t have that now but it was a beautiful thing then. Within this context we have the on again/off again love story of May and Mike. Although the blurb makes it appear that the book is about May, I don’t think we get nearly enough of her story. I wish there had been more but that is my only, very tiny complaint. Despite that, it is a very well researched, incredibly well written, engaging and entertaining tale. I cannot recommend it highly enough regardless of which type of genre you enjoy.
Frederic Tulsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist says it best –
“Terrific historical research and deft writing provide a striking portrait of racial and gender inequality in the ragtime era. An unforgettable and deeply human story.”
And now, since it’s Monday and I’m supposed to include MUSIC on MONDAYS I have a rare treat for you!! A very early recording from 1915, of Mike Bernard, The Ragtime King of the world playing the piano!! No joke.
The Ragtime King of the World – Ragtime Two-Step
Pretty darn awesome, right?? You can purchase Temptation Rag at any of the fine retailers below:
AMAZON BARNES AND NOBLE | CHAPTERS | INDIEBOUND
About the Author:
Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of The Beauty Doctor, Finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2017 AZ Literary Awards, and a Medallion Honoree of the Book Readers Appreciation Group.
Her novel The Beauty Doctor is a suspenseful tale that takes place in the early days of cosmetic surgery—when the world of medicine was a bit like the Wild West and beauty doctors were the newest breed of outlaw. Temptation Rag: A Novel immerses readers in the bawdy atmosphere of vaudeville and early twentieth-century African American musical theater in a story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness.
Elizabeth currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their much-loved and very spoiled black Lab.
Please join us on the remainder of the BLOG TOUR:
Monday, February 18
Review at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, February 19
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, February 20
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, February 22
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Saturday, February 23
Guest Post at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Reviews
Monday, February 25
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Tuesday, February 26
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, February 27
Interview at Passages to the Past
Friday, March 1
Review at View from the Birdhouse
Monday, March 4
YOU ARE HERE – > Review at Macsbooks
Wednesday, March 6
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 8
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, March 12
Review at Reader then Blogger
Friday, March 15
Review at Coffee and Ink
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away copies of Bernard’s other novel, The Beauty Doctor. One paperback and two eBooks are up for grabs. To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Whew! Thank you for reading ALL of this and thank you to Amy at #HFVBTBlogTours @HFVBT and @ EHBernardAuthor for my copy of this amazing book!